Preparing for snow in the Smokies

By: Stephen McLamb
By: Stephen McLamb

Sevier County (WVLT) While many people are hoping for snow, for area road commissioners it's their job to clear it, especially for those along the Smoky Mountains.

Volunteer TV's Stephen McLamb caught up with a few of them today and has more.

Several road commissioners say they're ready.

They've done what they need to do thus far and are just waiting for it to arrive.

But there are some out there anxiously awaiting the snow, because for them, it's fun.

For skiers at Ober Gatlinburg, the thought of real snow is exciting.

Bob Byars, a long time skier says, "we don't get a lot of it here it here it seems the last few years but yeah, getting fresh powder is awesome."

But for many area road commissioners, snow is a job that means it's show time.

Dennis Potter, a Campbell County Road supervisor says, "it's crunch time for us when it snows so we want to make a good showing."

Area departments are putting on the plows and filling up the salt trucks.

Bill Dunlap says, "tonight we will be putting two or three trucks in the garage loaded for instant response."

Once the snow begins, each crew member knows where to go and what to do.

Potter says, "we've got work zones set up and our trucks know which zone to go to. We clean our main roads first and venture off and get our side roads next."

Starting as rain then snow, Bill Dunlap in Blount county feels this will be a wet snow and presents special challenges.

"It plows real good. The only thing we have to be careful about is our speed because it will knock mailboxes down."

Commissioners say their biggest challenge will be the higher elevations.

That's especially true with the Smoky Mountains and Highway 441 that crosses over the mountains to Cherokee, North Carolina.

Mark Schotters, the National Park supervisor says, "it will probably close the mountain until we get it all pushed aside and get it opened up because it will be impossible for traffic to get through there with that depth of snow."

So road commissioners say they're ready.

All they're waiting for now is snow.

Potter continues, "mainly our goal is to try to get in here early enough to get the roads to where they're passable where people can get up and go to work the next morning."

It also depends on where you are.

Loudon road foreman Tim Shilling says they're ready but don't expect it to snow there as much.

But John Holloway in Cocke County says they're concerned about their higher elevations.

If there's a silver lining, officials at Ober Gatlinburg say if conditions are right they hope to open their Ober chute run for the first time ever on Thursday.


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